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College Physics

Introduction to Atomic Physics

College PhysicsIntroduction to Atomic Physics

View of tubular arrangement of atoms, as observed with a scanning electron microscope.
Figure 30.1 Individual carbon atoms are visible in this image of a carbon nanotube made by a scanning tunneling electron microscope. (credit: Taner Yildirim, National Institute of Standards and Technology, via Wikimedia Commons)

Chapter Outline

30.1 Discovery of the Atom
  • Describe the basic structure of the atom, the substructure of all matter.
30.2 Discovery of the Parts of the Atom: Electrons and Nuclei
  • Describe how electrons were discovered.
  • Explain the Millikan oil drop experiment.
  • Describe Rutherford’s gold foil experiment.
  • Describe Rutherford’s planetary model of the atom.
30.3 Bohr’s Theory of the Hydrogen Atom
  • Describe the mysteries of atomic spectra.
  • Explain Bohr’s theory of the hydrogen atom.
  • Explain Bohr’s planetary model of the atom.
  • Illustrate energy state using the energy-level diagram.
  • Describe the triumphs and limits of Bohr’s theory.
30.4 X Rays: Atomic Origins and Applications
  • Define x-ray tube and its spectrum.
  • Show the x-ray characteristic energy.
  • Specify the use of x rays in medical observations.
  • Explain the use of x rays in CT scanners in diagnostics.
30.5 Applications of Atomic Excitations and De-Excitations
  • Define and discuss fluorescence.
  • Define metastable.
  • Describe how laser emission is produced.
  • Explain population inversion.
  • Define and discuss holography.
30.6 The Wave Nature of Matter Causes Quantization
  • Explain Bohr’s model of atom.
  • Define and describe quantization of angular momentum.
  • Calculate the angular momentum for an orbit of atom.
  • Define and describe the wave-like properties of matter.
30.7 Patterns in Spectra Reveal More Quantization
  • State and discuss the Zeeman effect.
  • Define orbital magnetic field.
  • Define orbital angular momentum.
  • Define space quantization.
30.8 Quantum Numbers and Rules
  • Define quantum number.
  • Calculate angle of angular momentum vector with an axis.
  • Define spin quantum number.
30.9 The Pauli Exclusion Principle
  • Define the composition of an atom along with its electrons, neutrons, and protons.
  • Explain the Pauli exclusion principle and its application to the atom.
  • Specify the shell and subshell symbols and their positions.
  • Define the position of electrons in different shells of an atom.
  • State the position of each element in the periodic table according to shell filling.

From childhood on, we learn that atoms are a substructure of all things around us, from the air we breathe to the autumn leaves that blanket a forest trail. Invisible to the eye, the existence and properties of atoms are used to explain many phenomena—a theme found throughout this text. In this chapter, we discuss the discovery of atoms and their own substructures; we then apply quantum mechanics to the description of atoms, and their properties and interactions. Along the way, we will find, much like the scientists who made the original discoveries, that new concepts emerge with applications far beyond the boundaries of atomic physics.

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